I had a scout tell me once that the one thing you can’t improve upon in your game is your speed. While anybody who has ever run track knows that this is preposterous, often times players also take the outlook that if they’re not capable of stealing bases, they could never be capable of stealing bases– which I believe is equally preposterous. To help you advance your stolen base game or acquire one that you never thought possible, I present to you eight ways to steal more bags.
Do you fear not getting a hit so much that you never even swing? Of course not. So why would you fear stealing second base when the statistical history of baseball suggests that you are more likely to nail your stolen base attempt than get a hit? Stop thinking ‘I can’t’ and start thinking I will try.
I’ve seen a lot of baseball practices in my life, but I very rarely see stealing bases practiced. Chances are you are going to have to practice this away from your team’s practice structure. Get a partner and work on jumps, mixing in throws to the plate and pick-off attempts.
If you are trying to steal, then the heel of the pitcher that you should be concerned with is the left heel. The left heel. The left heel. The left heel! You want the earliest start you can get, so you should be paying attention to the first thing that let’s you know you should go, and that’s the left heel. After just a little practice, you may flinch forward when the pitcher’s right heel lifts, but you should still be able to get back to the base with a quick dive. After a lot of practice, you won’t flinch at all.
If you’re not diving back to the bag or you’re safe by a considerable amount of time on a strong attempt to pick you off, then you’re not getting a far enough lead. Get your jersey dirty and make the pitcher work. The more you dive back into the bag, the more your body gets used to that. Obviously, a better lead means a better chance to steal a base. Contrary to popular belief, if you never get picked off, you’re not doing it right.
There are two different successful footwork techniques used to steal bases. The first is a cross-over, which is simply crossing your left foot over your right foot and running. This is the most common footwork. The second is a lift and drive, which is quickly lifting your right foot and driving off your right foot when it lands again. You can see both styles used in this video of Scott Posednik. Find one you feel more comfortable with and perfect it.
If you don’t want to run track then you should be training with a strength and conditioning coach that has a strong background in track. With this individual, you will work on your footspeed, leg strength, upperbody strength and conditioning which will all help you get faster.
How often does the pitcher throw over to you? Do they usually throw over two seconds after coming to their set? Three seconds? One second after a head nod? Does he like to bury a curveball in the dirt when he’s way ahead in the count? These are things you should be paying attention to not neccesarily when you get on base, but when you are watching your teammates get on base.
There’s a difference between trying something that you’re not really that good at yet when you’re up four runs, and trying this when you’re down four runs. Or trying to steal second off a lefty, with no outs, runners on first and third and your best hitter is up. Pick your spots when trying to advance your game.
Featured Image Credit: SD Dirk via Flickr